Should Allen Iverson go Home?

Posted on November 29, 2009 by

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Okay, I couldn’t resist commenting on the story that the Philadelphia 76ers might bring Iverson back.  Here is how my latest at Huffington Post Sports begins:

The 2009-10 NBA season began with Allen Iverson – the Answer – playing for the Memphis Grizzlies. After coming off the bench for three games, though, Iverson and the Grizzlies decided to part ways. And then a few days ago, Iverson announced his retirement.

Iverson’s commitment to retirement, though, seems about as strong as his commitment to Memphis. On Saturday, ESPN.com reported that the Philadelphia 76ers are considering bringing the Answer out of retirement. But will Iverson help Philadelphia?

The answer to this question seems obvious. As of Saturday, Philadelphia was 5-11. The team’s efficiency differential (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency) was -5.2; a mark that projects to only 28 wins across an entire season. So Philadelphia is bad.

And of course, Iverson is one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

Well, not really. Read the rest at Huffington Post Sports

At Huffington Post Sports I primarily commented on the productivity of Iverson, Andre Iguodala, and Louis Williams.  Let me add to this story with a brief comment on Elton Brand.

Across his first eight seasons, Elton Brand produced 104.1 wins and posted a 0.215 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes].  And then he got hurt.  Since this initial injury, Brand has played 43 games in parts of 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10.  In these games he has produced 2.3 wins and posted a 0.067 WP48.  In 16 games in 2009-10 his WP48 is only 0.049.

Brand is now 30 years of age (as noted at Huffington Post, the early 30s are a young age for an economist but an old age for a basketball player).  The Sixers still owe Brand $50 million after this season, and it’s beginning to look like this money is not going to generate the return hoped for when Brand arrived in Philadelphia.

Despite the problems with Brand, the Sixers do have some productive players.  Andre Iguodala remains one of the better shooting guards in the NBA (his WP48 is not far from the mark posted by Kobe Byrant).  And Louis Williams and Marreese Speights – two very young players – have also been above average this season.

Unfortunately, Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Willie Green, Jrue Holiday, Jason Kapono, Jason Smith, and Thaddeus Young have all been below average. Of the veteran players, only Dalembert was an above average performer in 2008-09.  And Holiday was chosen before Ty Lawson (as expected, not a good choice).

In sum, mistakes have been made in building the Sixers.  But it does look like this team has made a few good moves in building this roster.  Adding Iverson, though, doesn’t look like a move that will fall under the heading of “a few good moves.”  In other words, bringing Iverson home is not likely to bring the Sixers closer to the playoffs in 2010.

Update: Mark noted that L.Williams is out for two months (sorry I missed that).  I have updated the Huffington Post column with this information.  Thanks to Mark for noting this injury.

– DJ

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Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at wagesofwins.com provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.